GLYNN EVANS DIGS DEEP into the career of hammer-handed Ovill McKenzie, who defends his British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight belts against Blackpool's Matty Askin, live on BoxNation this Friday night from 7pm.
1. McKenzie was born in one of the rougher suburbs of Kingston Town, Jamaica and passed the first 22 years of his life on the Caribbean island.
He left school, aged just 13, and survived by cooking and selling food on the street. His combative skills were first honed by learning to defend his patch!
His parents continue to live in Jamaica and Ovill sends a large portion of his fight purses home to support them.
2. The 35-year-old began his boxing career at the age of 18, after one of his pals chanced upon four pairs of boxing gloves. On weekend evenings, he and friends would have impromptu spars in the middle of the street and young Ovill proved a natural.
After inflicting one particularly brutal knockout, the victim's infuriated mother took a set of scissors to the gloves.
Nevertheless, his success in such melees persuaded McKenzie to pursue the sport in a more formal capacity. He joined a local amateur club and, within a year, made the Jamaican national team.
All told, he had 15 unpaid contests (one draw, one loss) and bagged a gold medal at the Caribbean Championships in Grenada.
However, disgusted by the manner in which the team were treated by the Jamaican Federation, he publically remonstrated to a local TV company and copped a one year ban for his trouble.
He responded by pursuing a professional career and after a visa application to the US was rejected, he docked in London.
3. During his formative years in the UK, the West Indian lived in an attic above the Peacock Gym in Canning Town.
On his March 2003 pro debut, McKenzie scalped Stroud's future English Light-Heavyweight challenger Leigh Alliss inside the grounds of Bristol City Football Club. However, routinely short of fitness and notice, he conceded defeat in six of his first 11 starts.
The matchmaking was brutal and he was tossed in against the likes of future English champion Peter Haymer, 2000 Olympian Courtney Fry, 17-0 Russian Dennis Inkin and future WBA Light-Heavy boss Stipe Drews.
In his 35 fight pro career, McKenzie has faced just four opponents with losing records!
4. McKenzie's prospects brightened after re-locating to Derby, where he was guided firstly by ex-British Heavyweight challenger Clifton Mitchell and then the Shinfield family from Somercotes.
Between moonlighting as a doorman at some of the city's roughest nightspots, Ovill racked up seven successive wins to earn a crack at ex-conqueror Peter Haymer for the vacant Commonwealth Light-Heavy crown.
What transpired was one of the briefest reigns in Commonwealth boxing history. Ovill iced Haymer inside two rounds but, in his first defence, was savaged inside two minutes of the opening session by Basingstoke's Dean Francis.
'After winning the belt, I got sponsorship and stopped focussing so good,' McKenzie said.
'I had too many distractions, too many ladies. They took my strength away. After losing my title I was so ashamed I locked myself away for a month!'
5. Twenty-seven months later at London's Earls Court Arena, the sculpted six footer atoned by overcoming a strong field to triumph in the Prizefighter cruiserweight tournament.
Despite conceding at least a stone in natural weight to each opponent, he slashed his way through Terry Dunstan, Darren Corbett and John 'Buster' Keeton, who'd all held major championships at 200lb.
'The greatest night of my career,' he said recently.
'I've never weighed 14st 4(lbs) in my life.'
6. Following a brace of abortive challenges to Liverpool's world rated Tony Bellew - he dumped the 'Bomber' heavily in rounds one and two of their initial spat - McKenzie finally regained his Commonwealth Light-Heavy belt in the third go at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax in November 2011.
His 15-second annihilation of Talywain's under-qualified Jeff Evans remains the shortest title fight in Commonwealth title history.
Ovill recalls, "at the weigh-in he looked like a little baby so I thought I'd do the kid a big favour and wipe him out quickly so as not to damage him."
7. Few nicknames are as apt as McKenzie's ring moniker of 'The Upsetter'.
The Martin Bowers coached champ has made a career from smashing his way to victory against the odds, over naturally heavier men, invariably away from home and often with nominal notice.
In addition to his victories over Haymer and in Prizefighter, McKenzie's last four wins - all by stoppage in title fights - were executed against one time British Super-Middle champion Tony Dodson (rsc3), ex-WBO Cruiser king Enzo Maccarinelli (rsc2), reigning Commonwealth Cruiserweight boss Tony Conquest (ko5) and reigning British champ Jon-Lewis Dickinson (rsc2).
His trail of devastation means that, for once, McKenzie enters as an 8-11 favourite to retain his belts in Friday's clash with Blackpool's Matty Askin.